Tuesday, 4 March 2008

Polymer Currency: Who is on the Australian $20 Banknote?

Who are the faces on the Australian $20 polymer notes? Each day I see new images of portraits on banknotes be they paper money or polymer I ask myself the same question, and the answers are amazing. I used to read a lot of Mills and Boon romantic novels in my teenage years and loved the ones about the Australian outback a lot. Some of the stories featured the Flying Doctors, which was my first encounter with this service. Now I get to learn about the man who actually started the service. Thank you paper money collecting, this is such a treat.

John Flynn (25 November 1880 - 5 May 1951)

John Flynn was born near Melbourne, unfortunately his mother died during childbirth, because of which he ended up growing up with relatives. John decided at a tender age that he wanted to be a minister, he studied Divinity and when he graduated later got ordained and then worked mostly in the Australian outback, he soon developed a strategy for working in this vast stretch of land and got involved with founding small outback clinics which helped with saving peoples lives.

Flynn soon got interested in Aviation and was convinced that this technology could take the saving of lives of people in the Australian outback to a completely different level. The radios were paramount in getting messages across and John did everything possible to raise the founds and support to make this dream a realisation and thus the Royal Flying Doctor Service was born. I think the loss of Johns mom at such a tender age in such a remote part of the country had a large part to play in Johns dedication to making sure that the remoteness of an area did not mean resignation to lack of resources. He made things happen instead and was able to save a lot of lives because of his persistence.

Another area Flynn concentrated on was making sure that the spiritual needs of people in the outback area was met, he therefore started travelling ministries where ministers would travel for miles just to speak, preach and help the people in the most remote areas of the Australian outback.

John Flynn married Jean Baird in 1931 at 51, he died in 1951 and is featured on one side of the current Australian $20 banknote.

Mary Reibey (12 May 1777 - 30th May 1855)

Mary Reibey is to be found on one of the sides of the Australian $20 polymer note. Who could have guessed that a woman of such lowly beginnings would end up being such a honourable and respected person in the nation that became hers by force. Mary was arrested and convicted of horse stealing, and subsequently sentenced to serve out her sentence in New South Wales.

She was later to marry Thomas Reibey who was working with the East India Company, but then branched out on his own and started trading. Thomas got ill and died in 1811, leaving Mary with seven children and a business. Mary could have given up and thrown her hands in the air, but no she took the bull by the horn and built up the business. She became a very influential and rich businesswoman, one of the first in Australia.

Mary died in 1855 at the age of 78 outliving all but two of her children. She spent the later part of her life helping out on social issues and giving to others, this is why Mary Reibey is featured on the $20 Australian banknote.

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